There is no denying the gluten-free trend has gone mainstream as more consumers continue to remove gluten from their diets as a lifestyle choice regardless of any medical diagnosis. With more parents making these choices for their families and increasing amount of children will look to continue these eating habits well into their adult life.

Responding to this trend, Kent State University has unveiled the first certified gluten-free dining hall on a college campus. Managed by French food services company Sodexo, the dining hall anticipates serving approximately 800 students each day.

“Students’ needs have always been our top priority,” says Rich Roldan, director of university dining services at KSU. “Students have enough to worry about – they should not have to worry about their food being safe to eat. It is important they can eat in a safe environment, which is why we decided to make Prentice Café a certified gluten-free dining location.”

Gluten is a protein found in wheat, rye, and barley. It is essential for those with celiac disease and sensitivity to gluten to avoid products containing these ingredients. An estimated three million
Americans suffer from celiac disease. Some individuals who have not been diagnosed with an allergy or sensitivity to gluten also choose to restrict their gluten intake as a personal preference.

At the dining hall dubbed “Prentice Café,” all menu items are gluten-free. Although many campuses offer gluten-free products and some even offer gluten-free stations in their dining halls, KSU is the first campus to offer an entire dining hall that is certified gluten-free.

Prentice Café earned certification from Gluten-Free Certification Organization, a program offered through the Gluten Intolerance Group (GIG).

“It's important for students who have celiac disease or gluten intolerance to be able to have a safe location where they can go and not have to worry,” says Megan Brzuski, Kent State University dining services dietitian. “There are many different menu items and options available for students to choose from at Prentice Café.”